Sibling Solidarity in a polygamous community in the USA: unpacking inclusive fitness

Document Type



This pilot study explores the degree of solidarity felt between full and half siblings who are raised in a Mormon Fundamentalist polygamous community. The community under study is unique in that, at the level of official culture, it actively promotes full and half sibling solidarity through an ethos that strives to downplay genetic differences in favor of a harmonious family living together in one household. This community is an ideal cultural setting in which to examine the suitability of inclusive fitness theory for understanding the factors that promote family cohesion, sibling solidarity, and rivalry. Our main question becomes: is the degree of sibling solidarity a manifestation of genetic closeness or a natural byproduct of emotional closeness that arises from being raised together? We found evidence for more solidarity between full siblings than between half siblings. Our data suggest that, despite the force of religious ideals, and notwithstanding the continued close physical proximity of half siblings in the polygamous family, there is a pronounced clustering of feeling and affection in the polygamous family that is consistent with inclusive fitness theory.


Inclusive fitness; Mormon Fundamentalist; Polygamy; Reproductive strategy; Sibling solidarity


Anthropology | Biological and Physical Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology

UNLV article access

Search your library